I will always wonder...

When people say that time heals, they are mostly right. I think about my son every day, and sometimes my thoughts take me to different places and evoke different emotions. Tomorrow I am taking my girls to Disneyland for Mickey's Halloween Party and just a few minutes ago my imagination wandered away and I pictured my girls walking around Disneyland with their older brother standing right next to them. My son lived 13 hours and he passed away while in my arms, he would be 7 years old right now, and probably counting down the days to his 8th birthday on November 1st. I have a few photos of him that the nurses took for us and as I look at his little face, I think he would have been my one child who looks like me. 

It has gotten easier as the years have gone by and my daughters and husband fill my life up with everyday things. But sometimes I will hear someone call his name and it takes my breath away, or I will hear someone mention his birth date and my stomach will drop. I don't think that will ever change. As my daughters grow up and learn new things, I wonder what it would have been like on his first day of kindergarten or how handsome he would have looked for picture day. Our lives would have been so different if he stayed, we would all be different people right now. I know it's not good to dwell on the "what ifs?" I have learned that much over these years. But it's true, I will always wonder. 

Today, October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. I am 1 in 4 women who have experienced the unimaginable loss. My faith that our Lord would get me through the hardest times is what got me where I am today. My two little girls and husband that drive me CRAZY are my blessings and knowing that my son is waiting for me, gives me comfort. I hope that when I share about my son and our loss, I can help someone who is going through the hardest time, see the light. Because, the light is there and it'll get brighter I promise. 

"When life gets tough, Women rise above it"

This is a compensated campaign in collaboration with the makers of Pine-Sol® Products and Latina Bloggers Connect, however, all opinions and commentary are my own.

Who is your role model? According to a recent survey* 86% of women ages 35 plus, say their biggest female role model is someone they know personally, not a celebrity or political figure. Women see the best female role models as a family or community member. To recognize and celebrate the remarkable women among us, Pine-Sol® has teamed up with actress and activist Rosie Perez to launch the ‘When Life Gets Tough, Women Rise Above It’ campaign.

As part of this awesome campaign, Pine-Sol® donated $25,000 to Women Empowered, a nonprofit based in Los Angeles that connects, educates and supports women of all ages and backgrounds, inspiring them to give back to their communities.

From now until January 31, 2014, women across the country are encouraged to contribute their own stories of triumph to Pine-Sol’s® collection of stories by visiting www.WomenRiseAboveIt.com or www.LasMujeresNoSeRinden.com.

Here is my story.
I rose above... grief and heartache. 
I am rising above and I am staying strong. 
It has been 6 years since my son was born and passed away. The thought of not bringing my son home was never even a possibility in my mind. His room was ready for him, his clothes were washed, the car seat was in the car. After he was born, the doctors discovered an inoperable heart condition and told us he could not be saved. 
As most could only imagine, as a first time mother, I was heart broken. I was able to spend a week straight holed up in our apartment with my husband, just being together. Once my husband returned to work, reality hit that I was on "maternity leave." I spent the day in bed or on my couch with my dog and cat. I even needed my mother to come drive me to the grocery store, because my focus was just gone. 
The hardest part of my healing came a few months later when I had to return to work. I worked at a school, and the last time my students saw me, I was very pregnant. I had to return to work and explain to a bunch of 12-17 year old's what happened. It was really tough for a few days, because for each absent student, I had to explain it again the next day. 
Now, 6 years later, I write about my son on my blog and share my story hoping to give other grieving mothers hope that it will get better. I have two beautiful, smart and healthy daughters that fill my day with fun. This is my story of triumph. When life gets tough, Women rise above it. Although, my heart will always ache for my son, I am proof that things will get better. 
So, what's your story? Here's your chance to share what it is that you went through to make you stronger today.  Pine-Sol® encourages you to share your story of triumph and be entered to win some amazing prizes. Check them out!

- Once a week for 12 weeks, Pine-Sol® will award one lucky winner small tokens of appreciation. (Flower bouquet + Pine Sol coupons) ARV: $150
- Three first prize winners will receive complimentary house cleaning services for a year ARV: $2,400
- One grand prize winner will be awarded an all-inclusive trip to enjoy a peaceful spa experience at a deluxe hotel. ARV: $5,000

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open to legal residents of the 50 United States & D.C. 18 years and older. Ends 1/31/14 at 11:59 a.m. PT. To enter and for Official Rules, including odds, and prize descriptions, visit www.womenriseaboveit.com. Void where prohibited.

SIN OBLIGACIÓN DE COMPRA. Abierto a residentes legales de los 50 estados de los Estados Unidos y D.C., mayores de 18 años. Termina el 1/31/14 a las 11:59 a.m. PT Para participar y consultar las Reglas oficiales, incluyendo las probabilidades y las descripciones de los premios, visitewww.lasmujeresnoserinden.com. Nulo donde esté prohibido.

*Wakefield Research conducted a survey among women across the U.S. on behalf of Pine-Sol® Brand Cleaners.

Do you know the facts about RSV? #RSVAwareness #ad

This post is part of a compensated campaign in collaboration with Latina Bloggers Connect and MedImmune.

When you first find out you are pregnant and get over the initial shock of impending motherhood, so many thoughts run through your mind and it is natural to fear the worst. Although most parents will be able to bring their babies home, some parents are not that lucky. Each year worldwide, 13 million babies are born prematurely, in the U.S. alone the rate of Prematurity is 12.2 percent, one of the highest in the world. 

With World Prematurity Day coming up on November 17th, we are trying to spread the word to educate parents of preemies of the potential risk that their babies face and how to protect their preemie the best they can. RSV or Respiratory Syncytial Virus is a common seasonal virus that in healthy children causes no more than cold-like symptoms. In a preemie with underdeveloped lungs, RSV can be deadly. 

Here are some facts about RSV:
  • RSV typically occurs in epidemics during the months of November-March (though it may vary).
  • RSV is the leading cause of hospitalizations in babies during their first year of life in the US, up to 400 infant deaths each year. 
  •  RSV is responsible for 1 in 13 pediatrician visits in children under the age of 5.
  • One Third of mothers have never heard of RSV.
Check the infographic below or click here for more facts about RSV. 

As a mother to two preschool age little girls, I want to stress the importance of how to help minimize the spread of RSV. This particular virus is contagious and can be spread through coughing, sneezing, and touching. Here are some tips on how to prevent the spread of RSV:
  • Wash your children's hands and ask others to do the same. 
  • Keep toys, clothes, blankets, and sheets clean.
  • Avoid crowds and young children during peak RSV season.
  • Never let anyone smoke around your children
  • Stay away from people who are sick or have recently been sick. 

I was one of those mothers that was unable to bring my baby home. I have chosen to take part in campaigns and fundraisers to help raise awareness to prevent premature birth in my son's name. It's easy to spread the word and raise awareness, you never know who you are educating and who's life you may be saving. So share the info!  

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day- Count the Kicks!

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Earlier this month, I wrote that on this day, I will take part in the Wave of Light celebration that is taking place worldwide at 7 p.m. I will light a candle in memory of my son, Gabriel. 

I will never forget the day he was born. It was the morning after Halloween and I had an appointment at the hospital for a Non-Stress Test. I woke up that morning and had orange juice and a waffle and waited to feel my baby move. I had read somewhere, during my first time mommy reading craze, that you should do a kick count to make sure that your baby moves enough. When I asked my doctor if I should be doing kick counts, he said it isn't something I should worry about. On the morning he was born, he didn't move much. In fact, I remember telling him to, "move more for mommy." Since I had an early appointment, I put it out of my mind. Hours later, when the nurses didn't see enough movement, I was rushed into an emergency c-section. You can find the rest of my story here

Almost 6 years later, I have 2 healthy daughters in preschool, and still struggle daily with trying to heal from the loss of my son. It has gotten easier, we have moved on and accepted that our son is waiting for us in heaven. But, I still have my days when I see a young boy his age and wonder what he would have been like. 

I hope that while sharing my story, it will not only help me to heal, but I also hope that I can help another mother out there reading this, who is struggling with their own infant loss. I hope that they know, it will get better, it will always be hard, but it will get better. I've shared before that almost 1 in 4 pregnancies will end in a loss. It is heart breaking, but unfortunately in the Mexican community, miscarriage is something that we are not encouraged to talk about. It is something we are taught to get over quickly and deal with quietly. It does not need to be this way, there is a huge community of support out there.  

I wanted to share and help take part in the Count the Kicks campaign. CTK helps to spread the word that by simply measuring fetal movements or counting kicks, thousands of babies' lives can be savedMany expecting mothers do not realize 1 in 160 births results in a stillbirth and that kick counting has been scientifically proven to save lives.  This campaign originated in Iowa, but this year, we are planning to take it nationwide with the help of Count the Kicks Ambassadors, seven women (Shawn Soumilas of Arizona, Kari Davis of Ohio, Meghan Petty of Tennessee, Karina Bennett of New York/California, Stacey Gripshover of Kentucky, Sapphire Garcia-Glancy of Kansas, and Sarah Firianni of Florida) from across the country who will be spreading the word about the importance of tracking fetal movement during the third trimester of pregnancy. In fact, Florida's Sarah Firianni saved her baby's life by kick counting and noticing a change in his movements. Sarah's baby had a true knot in his cord.

In this video called Mom to Momyou will meet six moms, all Count the Kicks Ambassadors, who lost their babies to still birth and are speaking out to help other moms. 
For more information and to join the movement, please visit and like www.facebook.com/countthekicks.

Did you know?

Did you know that October is SIDS, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. As a stay at home mom that blogs about my girls, whenever I meet new people, and new people meet me, I am always asked the same question. In most circumstances, this question would just be a part of light conversation. But for me, this question hurts my heart each time I get asked, "Don't you want a boy?" 

The answer is: I have a son. His name is Gabriel and he is in heaven. 

I've written about my son before. My husband and I had just celebrated our 1 year anniversary and were more than ready to bring our first born son home. After an emergency c-section, and without a clue, the doctors discovered that our son had an incurable heart condition. Our son went to be with our Lord in heaven only 13 hours after being born. The amount of time I got to hold him, will never be enough. Not a day passes, where I do not think about my son. Every morning as I walk my daughter into her school, I think of him. He would be in 1st grade this year. Every time I hear his name, Gabriel, my heart aches a little. I will always wonder what kind of boy he would have been. 

Although the majority of pregnancies end in beautiful, bouncing, crying babies. The sad truth is, 10-25% of pregnancies will end in miscarriage and 90,000 infants die before their first birthday in the United States. This sort of loss is not easy to talk about and I don't blame people for asking if I want a son, because how could they know that I do have a son, he just lives in heaven. 
Although every year I honor my son's name by walking in the March for Babies walk, this year I will also be recognizing Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day (PAILRD) on October 15th. On this day we will take part in the global Wave of Light Celebration. As a family, we will light a candle at 7 p.m. and keep it lit for an hour. Around the world, we will be part of a continuous Wave of Light to honor all of the babies and children that are now our angels. My son will be remembered on this day. 

One thing that I have found useful on my journey is finding a supportive community. Please feel free to share your feelings in the comment section below. (And, don't forget to light a candle on October 15th, at 7 p.m.)  

Team Duarte 4th Annual March for Babies Walk

Last weekend was our 4th Annual March for Babies walk for Team Duarte. I started this team 4 years ago, with a 14 month old daughter Lacey running around, I was 7 months pregnant with my second daughter Alexis and was trying to find a way to cope with the passing of my first born, my son, Gabriel. When my son passed away, I felt that God's plan for me was to help other Mother's to get through similar situations. I haven't exactly figured out how to do that yet, since it is still quite difficult for me to say his name. But, what I felt I could do, was do something in my son's name, in my son's honor. 

Our first year was probably the most difficult, for two reasons. For one, I felt like people wanted to know my story, "Did you have a preemie?" "Did your child survive?" The truth is, my son had a heart condition that was undetected and inoperable, I held him for a few hours. The March of Dimes foundation didn't help me, personally. But they have helped a lot of other families, and through them, I hope they have more prenatal testing, and maybe someone else wont have something go undetected.  The second reason our first year doing the March for Babies walk was difficult was because I was 7 months pregnant and the 3 mile walk was too much for me. I literally thought I was going to go into labor at the March for Babies, who's main focus is to prevent preterm labor! The irony was not lost on me! 

This year was a lot of fun. Although we had a smaller team and unfortunately didn't surpass our total from the previous year, we still raised about $1700 this year, which should bring our total in the past four years to about $5000. We welcomed a new walker Kristy, her two daughters Felicity and baby Serenity, and Gizmo. This year we had two fundraisers, the March for Babies Valentine's Day Bake Sale and a Shakey's fundraising night, which were both fun and successful and all about making memories. Next year, we hope to have a bigger team, new Team Duarte Tee shirts made, and more fundraising. 

2013 Team Duarte
Linda Martinez, Maricela Duarte, Mark Duarte, Me (Cynthia  Duarte), Debra Castellanos, George Martinez, Adriana Manzo, Melinda Martinez, and Kristy.
And Junior members, Alexis Duarte, Lacey Duarte, and Gizmo. 
Team Duarte in front of the Start/Finish line
My mom Linda, best friend Debra and my daughters Lacey and Alexis, with our Team Duarte banner that I designed. 
Alexis and her Papa
Papa decided to hold her up so she could see the USC Marching band as we were walking out through the starting line. 
Nana and Papa with Lacey and Alexis with the KMart Blue light guy. 

This year I wanted to make sure we were on time for the opening festivities and even though I was the one running late, we made it on time! We were there as they played music for the warm up, and as the always amazing USC marching band played while we walked through the starting line. 
Lexie's little legs carried her for about 50 ft, before she got back in her little car. 
Our furriest member of Team Duarte, Gizmo. 

Lexie looks tired, but never really walked. She was just along for the ride, the face painting, and the cotton candy. 
I love being a part of something that feels good. As you walk along the route, volunteers hold up signs with information about March of Dimes and their goal, hand out water bottles, cheer you on, and were even fanning my daughter as she ran by. I was so proud of my little Lacey, she ran most of the walk and was a pretty good shade of red because of the heat. 

It's nice to know that everyone there, is there for a good reason, for a good cause. There are two families that I remember from the walk. One was a family with triplets being pulled in their little buggies, they had a sign that read, "We were born at 26 weeks" They looked happy and healthy, well, besides the one in the last buggy, she seemed bummed to be up so early in the morning. Another family walking alongside us, had their daughter sitting atop a little wagon, and she was wearing wings. When you looked at her wagon they had pictures of a tiny baby, with tubes in her nose. They were obviously very happy to say that their daughter made it through and was now strong enough to be there and walk with them.

The whole day is just surrounded by happiness, even though their are families and teams like ours, whose babies did not make it through, we are there together, honoring his name. It's a great day to remember, celebrate life, and be surrounded by people that feel the same way. 
Donations are still being accepted, if you would like to donate to our team, here is the link to TEAM DUARTE. See ya next year March for Babies